A theory of air power to be sound and lasting will have to be based on the transport airplane rather than on the bomber. This deduction can be made from history, if one believes that history serves any purpose at all. Man now uses the air above him for a medium of transportation as he has always used the water around him. In the close analogy between airplane and ship, something of the future of one can be forecast from the history of the other.
The progress of the airplane has not reached a point, however, where it is possible for us to develop a concept of strategic and economic air power comparable to that of sea power. Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan derived that theory from a study of Western man’s achievements with the ocean-going ship over a period of three centuries. This period was the geographic age, one phase in man’s long conquest of his environment. We are now in another phase, and the airplane is the new tool that man is using in this same conquest. But the accomplishments of the airplane to date have been small when compared with those of the ship.